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Elliott’s Sky Blues tour a game changer for regional communities

10:00am April 04 2024

Growing up in the small town of Cobargo on the New South Wales south coast, Millie Elliott felt the lack of educational and sporting programs that are available in major cities.

Now an established star of women’s rugby league, the Westpac NSW Sky Blues and Sydney Roosters player is passionate about supporting smaller communities and has just completed a tour of regional towns promoting the physical and mental benefits of sport for people living with disability.  

The NSW Rugby League Game Changer Tour comprised a two-hour session, split between indoor and outdoor learning, where Millie and one of her Sky Blues teammates shared their experience of being part of a successful team. 

“Growing up in a regional area myself, I know how important it is for people with disabilities and accessibility requirements to be involved in a team,” Elliott said in an interview. 

“They often don’t get that experience when they finish school or they're out in the community and they’ve lost that self-confidence. I wanted to provide a program for people to be a part of and to put that on everywhere not just in areas that get it a lot like those bigger cities.”

The tour is based on the Game Changer program which was developed by Millie and business partner David Prentice as part of their Trainer Group Foundation. 

Through a range of workshop discussions and team-building games and exercises, the program helps its participants - mainly teenagers and young adults - to build their confidence, make new friends and leave feeling empowered to contribute their own strengths within their wider community. 

“We're very different in the way that we deliver our programs. We have a big emphasis on the mental wellbeing side of it,” Elliott says. “We make it a really safe environment for the participants to share. They don't have to, but a lot of them feel like they want to by the end.”

The tour kicked off in Bega on the NSW south coast close to where Millie grew up.

“My little sister Hannah who has Down Syndrome came along and it was probably one of our best ones yet, we just had so much fun with them all. It’s been really special to provide that not only for the participants but their families as well, and the support workers.”

Westpac backed the tour, which fits with its broader sponsorship of the NRL and commitment to supporting grassroots rugby league.  

“Our partnership with Trainer Group is an example of our commitment to access and inclusion and it's exciting to bring this opportunity to the community,” said Peter Herbert, Chief Operating Officer, Business & Wealth, who took part in the tour’s event at Port Macquarie.

The bank also supported this year’s HOGS tour, where NRL legend Brad Fittler led a convoy of bikers on a roadshow through regional towns in Queensland and New South Wales. Throughout the tour, the HOGS hosted Rugby League clinics at junior clubs, schools and youth centres, visited Westpac branches, and raised money in support of mental health and homeless charities. 

“One thing we‘ve all got to remember in Westpac is that the world doesn't revolve around the CBD,” said Shane Howell, Managing Director, Business Lending, who also participated at the Game Changer event in Port Macquarie. “Regional Australia is an important piece of our future and Australia's future.”

Millie will soon turn her thoughts to the upcoming NRLW season, which gets underway in July, but first she’ll be back on the road with the Game Changer program visiting NRL clubs including the Roosters, Canberra Raiders, Cronulla Sharks, Manly Sea Eagles and Newcastle Knights.  

James Thornhill was appointed as editor of Westpac Wire in May 2022. Prior to joining the bank, he was a business and financial journalist with more than two decades of experience with international newswires. Most recently, he was a resources correspondent for Bloomberg, covering the mining and energy sectors, and previously reported on a broad range of topics from economics and politics to currency and bond markets. Originally from the UK, he’s had stints working in London, New York and Singapore, but is now happily settled in Sydney.

Sarah Williamson is a video producer for Westpac Wire. Sarah joined the team in 2024 bringing with her nearly a decade of experience across all aspects of video production. She's worked with high profile companies including Canva and Lego.

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